In the midst of my most intense experiences in this life—happiness, sorrow, nostalgia, melancholy—the moments I feel most alive, I always return to this gerund as a descriptor: floating. My body, as it exists within the ever-altering space of life, as it exists in water. Buoyancy, nature’s support. My psyche heavy, an anchor; my body light, sailing. Closer to one, the oceanic feeling.
Have you ever thought that the sea is the one body on this earth that connects us all? Her limbs stretch out and touch each continent.
It is finally summer again. The sun’s prism reflects on the sea, tiny diamonds that fall out of existence as easily as they came into it. The sea calls you and you approach, mesmerized by her sparkle. Her coolness shocks your parched toes. Little by little, the water refreshes your body. Toes, feet, ankles, legs. You stop at waist length. Gather some water in your palms, transfer it to your tummy, splash it on your shoulders…attempts to lessen the shock. Breathe deeply and plunge in. One with her. White noise, waves crashing on the shore. Open your arms, thrust your body forward, disregard the resistance. Open your eyes while submerged—a fuzzy world unfolds—and then a final kick, your eyes glimpse at the diaphanous border of the water, crossed in the span of a second, back to the surface, breathe. Your eyes prismatic diamonds.
Sitting on a seaside balcony a late summer afternoon in the land of sun and sea, gold and blue. Lonely amidst the roaring happiness of the season unfolding at the jetty right below. You, unable to descend closer to the water. Their youthful laughter reaches your darkness. Lament. Nighttime falls, the jetty becomes deserted. You imagine your body, on this island, floating in the Mediterranean, in company with the rest of the isle clusters. A mirror image of the stars in our galaxy.
A day in the Rockaways, brief respite. Close your eyes and feel the drops of sea evaporate under the blazing sun. Arm begins to wander, realizes its solitude, grains of sand travel between fingertips. “A small boat made of paper, a fake seashore…” Songs of a time past echo and make your chest fill up like the sails of a traveling boat. You don’t know what comes next. Float.
The water’s gone lukewarm and you sit, half submerged, head, shoulders, knees popping out, listening to melancholy piano and staring at the blurry turquoise of this borrowed New York City bathtub. A face, maybe your own, plummets inside. It swirls in the water, losing form, dissolves. It has already begun.
Lazarus. Walking along an endless beach, back home, yet the other side of the world. Footprints left behind, erased by waves. You only exist right now. Thoughts haunt your head, your body aches for release. Your eyes catch the light. Sun’s rays falling on the sea surface, floating diamonds. You are transported back to the first day of childhood summers. When your skin was still untouched by the sun’s rays and the whole season stretched before us. These diamonds signified freedom. You now walk alone, the burden of loved ones left behind heavy, the uncanny feeling of eternal rootlessness.
I slide in the Meditarranean and allow her to sway me. I allow her to engulf me, vast energies transmitted through the waves. From here, only the sounds of the seabed are heard. From here, I only see my toes. From here, I close my eyes and forget my body. It no longer exists. Buoyancy. The one body on earth that can connect us all. I surrender. Float.
Anastasia Damaskou was born in London, UK and raised in Athens, Greece. She is happiest when analyzing literary texts and uses writing as a way to understand herself and those around her.